I have always been a bit of a frustrated journalist. In my teen years, I dreamt of becoming a foreign correspondent, reporting from one of those European cities that, if the spy movies were to be believed, had a leading role in the 50 year drama that was the Cold War. My first internship, at the age of fourteen, was with Newsweek magazine. Although my work didn’t yield any Pulitzer Prizes (I worked in the clip room – a key cog in the journalism supply chain in the era before Google and the internet), I did get a taste for the excitement, adrenaline and intellectual energy of the newsroom.
My college years were marked by an unhealthy obsession with talk radio. Whether it was sports or politics, I was a captive audience to the pundits, loudmouths and bloviators that could transform a questionable NY Mets sixth inning pitching change into a scandal of Watergate proportions. Captivated by this virtual soapbox from which one could promulgate opinions and project outrage, I yearned to one day slide a noise-canceling pair of headphones over my ears and sign-off like Walter Cronkite or rant like the Mad Dog.
Alas, my fledgling journalism and talking head career never materialized. The journalism dream was short-circuited by the need to support a growing family as well as the catastrophic disruption and contraction of the traditional media business model. Apart from the occasional opinion piece published by a local paper, it was my public relations career that thrived, and the prospect of transitioning to a career as a talking head and pundit became as likely as me lining up behind center for my beloved Washington football team.
And then, with the help of my colleagues at Antenna Group, I launched the Raising Your Antenna Podcast.
Raising Your Antenna blends my past and present worlds. There I am, mic at the ready, but instead of talking Mets with the Mad Dog I’m discussing the future of our connected world with the entrepreneurs, founders, executives, investors and influencers that are shaping it. I recently completed my twentieth episode, and the experience of engaging with guests that are passionate, mission-driven and insightful has been inspiring and educational. Raising Your Antenna has scratched an itch that hadn’t stopped burning for almost thirty years.
While there’s a business case to be made for investing time and resources into launching a podcast (it has been an effective lead generation tool for Antenna Group), the payoff for me has been more about the “love of the game” than the “Benjamins.”
So what do I love about it? For starters, I enjoy the preparation. Hosting a 30-40 minute conversation demands questions and interjections that are probing and elicit thoughtful and lengthy responses. My first twenty episodes have provided me with the opportunity to guide conversations about a wide berth of topics including: upstream autonomous vehicle technologies, pothole and road infrastructure recognition technologies, venture capital investing methodologies, the economics of energy storage, and the obstacles impeding mass adoption of micro-mobility solutions. And those are some of the simpler topics. Exhaustive preparation is a must, and I have enjoyed every minute of it.
I also value the podcast format. Unlike cable news shows, which reward snark, outrage and superficiality, a podcast is a long-form content model that lends itself to nuance, thoughtfulness and depth. Podcasts provide room for multiple sides of an argument and winning a debate is judged by the standard of reasoned arguments, not decibel level. In much the same way that I prefer a New Yorker or an Atlantic article to a Buzzfeed listicle, I get immense pleasure from facilitating thoughtful and balanced conversations around important issues.
Lastly, the most rewarding part of hosting a podcast is the opportunity to meet and converse with interesting and talented people. I have now had the pleasure of interviewing twenty-one guests for Raising Your Antenna, and without exception, each episode has enriched me as a professional and a person. The passion and energy that animates the people that are pushing the frontiers of the connected world are palpable and contagious, and each interview injects me with enough adrenaline to last until the next taping. It’s hard to believe that I am a veteran of twenty episodes, and while I won’t be making anyone forget Walter Cronkite anytime soon, I do feel that I am living a piece of the dream that I began more than thirty years ago, in the basement of Newsweek Magazine.